What affects self-esteem depends on the source. For some, it is a matter of overcoming past failures in life and becoming more optimistic about the future. Others talk about how their childhood experiences impacted on their self-image, leaving them with a lack of self-confidence. For still others, the real question is how much of one’s life is affected by self-esteem and how much of it is attributable to real abilities, such as a talent for music or a particular hobby.
In an intriguing new study published in Psychological Review, Dr. Lynn Vavrusin and her colleagues examined how the way you perceive yourself affects your level of self-confidence. Specifically, they were looking at how your external appearance influences your self-esteem. Specifically, they were examining three specific domains of self-esteem: social competence, social relevance, and personal worthiness. In this article, we’ll go over what they found. By the time you’re done reading, you should be better able to understand why this might be so important.
First, it seems that your level of self-esteem depends on how much of your life you had positive experiences. Those with high self-esteem are those who had positive childhood experiences. These include having healthy relationships with other children and adults, experiencing strong supportive relationships at school and in the neighborhood, and having good academic results. Those with low self-esteem and a history of low self-affirmation were the ones with a low positive childhood experiences and a history of negative self-talk.
In light of this, it would seem that having a good childhood leads to a high self-esteem. In fact, Dr. Vavrusin presented participants with a questionnaire detailing their childhoods. The question was, “do you think your childhood has had an impact on your level of self-esteem?” The responses he got indicated that childhood experiences were indeed extremely important when it came to self-esteem.
A second study which explored what affects self-esteem revealed that there is a relationship between a person’s physical appearance and their level of self-esteem. Specifically, the more physically attractive a person is, the higher their general self-esteem will tend to be. In addition, the physically attractive people also report having higher social competence, higher self-confidence, and higher social assertiveness than people who are not physically attractive. This last finding is important since assertiveness is a key component in building and maintaining good self-esteem.
Finally, there is new research which indicates that your level of self-esteem can be impacted by your personality. Specifically, researchers have discovered that the strength of the personality’s need for social approval and the need for security increases as people get older. These two aspects play major roles in a person’s ability to handle various situations. Therefore, if you have a strong need for social approval then your chances of getting older are increased and your self-esteem will be affected. Conversely, if you have a high need for security then your self-esteem will be decreased as security becomes a major need.
All in all, we can conclude that there is a strong relationship between how you feel about yourself and how you feel about your body. If you get older, your physical appearance will affect your level of self-esteem but this is not the only way. Likewise, your personality will play a strong role in how self-esteem develops throughout your life. Lastly, there is a strong connection between the level of social competence and self-esteem. People who are highly competent have high self-esteem and those who are not as competent have low self-esteem.
As we can see, all three factors affect self-esteem in different ways. Each of these factors has a major influence on how we perceive our bodies and how we feel about ourselves. As we get older, there are a number of important factors that affect self-esteem such as the effects of aging on general self-esteem and the effects of aging on the need for social acceptance. These three factors are interconnected and they form an intricate whole. What affects self-esteem most is determined by the combination of all of these factors.